Sunday, October 09, 2016

Extensive programme for Shackleton Autumn School

For anyone who wants to delve deeply into the life and exploits of Ernest Shackleton and the people who shared his travels and times, the 16th Shackleton Autumn School at the end of this month is a splendid and accessible opportunity, writes Brian Byrne.

The weekend in Athy begins on Friday 28 October at 8pm with the launch in Athy Museum & Heritage Centre of ‘Explorers’ Sketchbooks: The Art of Discovery and Adventure’ by Dr Huw Lewis-Jones, the renowned historian, editor, and broadcaster with a special interest in exploration and polar matters.

Dr Lewis-Jones will talk about the subject of the book on the Saturday morning at 10am in the first formal event of the Autumn School. This will be followed at 11.20am by Meredith Hooper’s discussion on ‘Triumph from Disaster: Shackleton and the Endurance Expedition’, and at 12.10pm by ‘White and Green Warfare in 1916: the story of Tom Crean & Thomas Ashe, with Frank Nugent.

After lunch on the Saturday, at 2.30pm, Dr Russell Potter will present 'Finding Franklin - The untold story of a 165-year search’, and this will be followed at 3.30pm by ‘What makes a successful explorer?’, with Mick Conefrey.

Admission to each of the foregoing is €10.

At 4.30pm the School presents ‘Icebreakers’, a series of short presentations on topics relevant to the Shackleton Autumn School, presented by those with a passion for their subject. Admission free.

The formal Autumn School Dinner will be held at Clanard Court Hotel, Athy, from 8pm on the Saturday evening, tickets €40.

The Sunday session on 30 October begins with a free event, ‘The Last Husky Dog Journey on the Antarctic Continent, presented by John Killingbeck.

Following this, at 11.20am, Simon Stephens will discuss ’Life after Shackleton: The Conservation and Travels of the James Caird’; at 12.10pm there’s ‘The 9,000 mile museum:Caring for our Antarctic Heritage’ with Camilla Nicholl. At 2.30pm 'Ernest Shackleton and Adrien de Gerlache - A Belgian Connection' will be discussed by Dr Jozef Verlinden, followed by a film at 3.30pm, ‘Towards the Coldest Place on Earth’. Admission to each of the foregoing is €10.

An Open Forum will be chaired by Bob Headland, and there will be a Cultural Evening 9pm, admission free to both.

The School will conclude on Monday, 31 October with a Field Trip setting off at 10am, in the form of a bus tour through Shackleton country. Fare €10.

For bookings contact 059 8633075 or Email

If your appetite for Shackleton was whetted by the excellent — and totally free — presentation by Mario Corrigan in Kilcullen Library in August, then this is one way of following it up.